We’re three days into the tour, and it’s been a whirlwind. The shows are going very well. It’s great to play to an audience that’s only 50% mine, as I have to work hard to win them over. But when I do, I know I’ve expanded my audience by a few hundred folks; and it will ricochet on from there. BT’s core fans are generally quite like mine (except—face it—a little younger and hipper!) The respectful way they treat him at the meet’n'greets, and the deep knowledge and affection they have for his whole body of work, feels very familiar.
Traveling down California was nonstop, and fraught with the technical and logistical and business issues attendant to the start of any tour. Relearning the art of getting to sleep on a rolling tour bus means we’re all quite dazed. And yesterday in Anaheim I had to get up early, rent a car and drive myself ahead down to San Diego to do two live radio shows. BT joined me for the second, which was on a (pretty rare!) non-Clearchannel owned station called 94.9.
We each played a piece live on the air, with laptop, MIDI keyboard and drum controller. I snuck into an office next door and listened to BT ‘on the radio’ and his piece sounded fantastic. He was using Ableton Live and my TriggerFinger to tweak and effect one of the tunes on his new CD. This was mainstream, drivetime radio, beaming top drawer state-of-the-art ambient electronica in real time.
In separate interviews, the DJ, a very well informed guy called Mike Halloran, asked us each the same question: was there a moment in your youth when you knew you were going to become a professional musician? I answered first: for me it was late one night in around 1973 when I saw Roxy Music on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’, and Brian Eno posed demurely at the back with his leapoardskin armlets and platform boots and Minimoog front panel. Then BT said that for him it was the night he watched my performance on the 1985 Grammies with Stevie, Herbie and Howard Jones (see the Billboard article in my previous blog.) How curious that the infectious music meme passed down the generations like that.
The twelve of us are slowly acclimatizing to living and sleeping on a 45ft tour bus. I woke up this morning around 6am in my bunk, and walked the length of the sleeping area which is like a cryogenic dormitory of a spaceship on a 70-year voyage to a distant planet. In the lounge there was daylight and I cracked open a blind. Outside it was pristine Arizona desert. Miles of flat wasteland, cactus, rocky outcrops, trailer homes. Out there somewhere is the Boneyard, where the carcases of former fighter planes and broken Jumbos slowly rust in the early morning sun.
For all the moaning musicians do about life on the road, I have to admit there’s still a certain romance to it, when I only do it every 15 years or so…..